In communities across the country, record low housing inventory, extreme rental shortages, chronic NIMBYism, and a heavily regulated building environment are thwarting the cause of affordable and accessible housing. In central New Mexico, the REALTORS® are seeking solutions as a leading force in the Santa Fe Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC). With a Housing Opportunity Grant, they’re advancing the coalition’s mission to expand the diversity of housing options in the region.
Donna Reynolds, Government Affairs Director of the Santa Fe Association of REALTORS®, describes SFHAC, on whose Leadership Council she serves, as a broad group of stakeholders including businesses, homebuilders, educational, medical, and art institutions, community foundations, and traditional housing organizations; it also benefits from close relationships with the City and County of Santa Fe. “In order to build community support for more diverse local housing options (such as multi-family housing, accessory dwelling units, rental housing, housing-in-place and senior housing, emergency housing, sweat-equity housing, and housing for those with disabilities,) SFHAC developed a media/public engagement plan,” she says. “Its goals were to raise awareness that Santa Fe has a significant housing crisis; help define local housing issues; demonstrate the link between housing and jobs; and create local stories that could be used during future campaigns.”
A compelling four-minute video telling multiple real-life stories of local housing insecurity is the centerpiece of the public engagement plan, supported by a REALTOR® Party Housing Opportunity Grant and additional funds from SFAR. “SFHAC is working to create a social media strategy that will use these videos and many other resources. It is also producing a monthly online newsletter to engage its members and the public,” notes Reynolds.
The grant funding also supported a day-long program to educate and train coalition members in recognizing and resolving intercultural conflicts in housing issues.
The historical displacement of indigenous and Hispanic people from their land and homes is one example of the kind of mistrust that lingers in the current housing environment, explains Reynolds. “By helping members to better understand issue of unaware bias, power, privilege, language, and history, we can break down a number of barriers that stand in the way of cooperation and progress,” she says. In addition to SFHAC members, the leadership of the Santa Fe REALTORS® participated in the training, as well as one of SFAR’s regular diversity training instructors whom Reynolds invited so that some of the unique cultural sharing could be an additional resource for future REALTOR® training programs. “The timing of the training was perfect,” notes Reynolds, “as the coalition has now been awarded a major grant from local funders to continue and build on its work.”
In more positive news, Reynolds reports two local legislative wins that will further the cause of the Santa Fe Housing Action Coalition: the relaxation of land use requirements to encourage the expansion of accessory dwelling units, and the continuation of a fee option for multi-family development. That’s good for housing, good for the communities, and good for the REALTORS®.
To learn more about how the Santa Fe Association of REALTORS® is collaborating to grow diverse housing options in Santa Fe, contact Government Affairs Director Donna Reynolds at 505-982-8385.